Last updateTue, 17 Oct 2017 5pm

Senior Lifestyles

Local seniors bring WWII to life in Foothill sreening

Foothill College has scheduled the premiere screening of “Remembering World War II: First-Person Accounts,” a video featuring 42 individual oral history narratives of the conflict, 1 p.m. Nov. 1 in Smithwick Theatre.

The presentation, which features wartime memorabilia, photographs, letters, documents and music from the period, consists of two 90-minute segments with a 15-minute intermission.


The project began nine years ago as part of the Foothill College Life Stories class. Writing instructor Sheila Dunec encouraged her older students to record their life memories and milestones on paper. Many of the students wrote memoirs of their experiences related to the war. From GIs to WACs, Rosie the Riveters and POWs, the stories compiled by Dunec’s students offered first-person histories of WWII.

The experiences also reflect the diversity of Life Stories students, and include accounts from different countries, cultures and ethnic perspectives. They include stories from the different theaters of war, front lines, the homefront, death camps and internment camps. They are told by soldiers, war brides, support personnel, sisters, nurses, Holocaust survivors, prisoners of war and children – all now in their senior years.

“The purpose of this project is to honor the members of the generation who went through World War II, and to help keep the war experience alive in hopes that yet another world war may be avoided,” Dunec said.

A high school teacher asked Dunec, a former Veterans Administration counselor and instructor, if the Life Stories students would speak about World War II to teens in her history class who considered the topic uninteresting. The experience proved powerful and developed into Life Stories storytellers visiting additional classrooms for similar presentations, and later into a live performance in 2000 of 32 of the oral histories for an audience of more than 700.

“Everyone who has heard these stories has become convinced that these personal accounts need to be collected, presented to a wider audience and preserved for posterity,” Dunec said. “In addition to public presentations of the video, a key component of the project has been designing the video for use in high school history classrooms.”

Dunec and the “Remembering World War II” narrators teamed up with De Anza College to complete the video presentation. Marty Kahn, De Anza technology resources production operations supervisor, and production operations coordinator Greg Bartschenfeld produced and edited the video. In early 2010, the video will be available to download from De Anza’s iTunesU.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. To request tickets, call 949-6965.

Foothill College is located at 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Parking is free in Lots 1, 5 and 6 on the day of the screening. A free shuttle from Lot 1 will pick up and drop off patrons with mobility problems.

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